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Why dont subtitles do this? (1 Viewer)

Butch C

Second Unit
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Dec 13, 2001
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Case in point...THE BYCICLE THIEF...the entire movie is translated into english and subtitled...fine...so why dont they translate monetary values using the exchange rate at the time the movie is set?

Theres a scene when the father and son are eating at the resturaunt and the boy is enviously eyeing a family eating spaghetti. The father says "You need to make 5,000,000 lira a month to eat like that" Well I dont know about you but that scene is lost on me...How much in dollars is 5,000,000 in post WWII Italy?

Does this bother anyone else...I mean if your translating Italian Slang and phrases that dont really translate the same into english why not give me a dollar conversian in parenthessies?

Even with english language movies...how mutch better would Angelas Ashes or the Full Monte be if I freaking knew how small the sums of money that they were struggeling to put together were? I cant relate to a story of a man trying to scrape together some cash if I dont know how little (or large) the sum actually is.

OK with the full monte I could do the conversions myself but with Angelas or Bycicle i would have to consult a economic historian to figure this out.

Waddaya think? Am I off base, would this ruin the intent of the film, or is this an idea whose time has come?
 

Alex Spindler

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I'll ask you this Butch:
You see a movie set in France or Russia and the subtitles say "I'll do the assassination job for $1,600,000". Wouldn't you take that to mean that he is being paid for in US currency? You might complain that he should be paid in his native currency.

Of course, the ideal solution would be to have the subtitle as "5,000,000 lire ($2,428US)". But that could be a little confusing to read in the timeframe of a subtitle (or maybe not).

Does anyone remember when Comedy Central's The Daily Show would report domestic box office grosses in Italian Lire? It was way to cool to see movies making billions.
 

Rain

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Am I off base, would this ruin the intent of the film, or is this an idea whose time has come?
Sorry, but yes you are off base.

What if I suggested that we do the same thing on old English language films with overdubs? This is no different.

Subtitles on foreign films are for translation purposes only and should translate the dialogue as closely as possible to the original.
 

Jeff Kleist

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Right....as Rain :)
Frankly I think we should be fighting the battle of getting companies to translate songs (song lyrics are not typically included with scripts sent for translation) before anything else.
I've REALLY been trying to appriciate Bollywood movies lately, and it's very hard to do so without subs for half the movie
 

Butch C

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Subtitles on foreign films are for translation purposes only and should translate the dialogue as closely as possible to the original
Your right...I mean to say 5,000,000lira ($25).
Translation of plot points is also important...the fact that I had no idea of how impovereshed this man actually was took away from the premise of the film.

IN ADDITION...why do some movies stop translating for long periods of time...they leave entire lines out of the Bycicle Thief...who decides if this is important.

Oh and by the way, they translate certian phrases to thier closest english equivilent and not an actual dictonary translation...Im suer all bi-linguals here have done it in thier personel lives...someone says "what did he say" and you respond with "It kinda means..." there are some phrases in Italian that could never be realistically be translated into english so the translators take an equivelent phrase and apply it.

"Now you talk so mutch"
"it sounds mutch better in italian"
-Mrs. Scorsese
 

Qui-Gon John

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IN ADDITION...why do some movies stop translating for long periods of time...they leave entire lines out of the Bycicle Thief...who decides if this is important.
....Waving hand like Jedi

You don't need to know what they said.
 

Rain

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...they translate certian phrases to thier closest english equivilent and not an actual dictonary translation...
Yes, because in some cases a literal translation would result either in something that makes no sense at all or something that would be very grammatically incorrect.
 

Jesse Skeen

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I've noticed on the French subtitles for Region 1 DVDs, when a distance is discussed in miles it is converted to kilometers in the subtitles.
 

Joseph Young

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Using the latest in digital effects, filmmakers in countries outside the US should be required to take all the Rupees, Marks, Euros, Pesos, etc in their films and replace them with digital dollars and US currency to avoid confusion.
When filming, the director should require the actors to do two takes for any scene mentioning money, one that mentions the original currency, and the other with 'these valuable, hard earned US Dollars!!' as the actors are suddenly overcome with zealous glee.
This film has been modified from the original version to include the viable currency in the Global Marketplace.
j/k
Joseph
 

cafink

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I wish more studios thought the way Butch does! This has long been a pet peeve of mine. I recently encounted such a problem while watching "Insomnia."

What if I suggested that we do the same thing on old English language films with overdubs? This is no different.
It's very different. No one here advocates changing the contents of a film — but if you're going to add subtitles to the picture, then they need to make the dialogue clear and easily understood. That's the whole purpose of having them in the first place. That's why, as you said yourself, Rain, you'll never see a 100% literal translation of dialogue in the first place.
 

Ricardo C

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It's very different. No one here advocates changing the contents of a film — but if you're going to add subtitles to the picture, then they need to make the dialogue clear and easily understood.
And "adapting" currency values accomplishes this HOW? I don't know about you, but if I'm watching a film set in Italy, I'd feel rather distracted by the mention of American currency...
 

MichaelAW

Second Unit
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I've noticed on the French subtitles for Region 1 DVDs, when a distance is discussed in miles it is converted to kilometers in the subtitles.
The same thing is done here in Sweden, too.

What gets me is when the subtitles are wrong. It's usually never anything important, but the wrong words are used sometimes, and not necessarily to keep context consistant. I can't think of any examples now (of course), but it drives me nuts when I see it.
 

cafink

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Carl Fink
And "adapting" currency values accomplishes this HOW?
By letting the audience know the amount in question.

If the viewer can't understand a bit of the movie, be it dialogue or currency, because of its foreign-language content, subtitles should be used to fill him in. That's what subtitles are meant to do.

Translating the currency literally doesn't do the viewer a lick of good if he doesn't know its value. He doesn't know it any more than he would without the help of the subtitles. What would be the point of that?
 

Steve Enemark

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Funny, I just watched Criterion's The Vanishing tonight, and a character clearly gives a distance in kilometers, but the subtitles state it in miles.
 

george kaplan

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Let's face it, movies (or books for that matter) don't always translate perfectly into other languages. I have a friend who saw Duck Soup in Germany. There's a funny line where someone looks out the window and sees tanks coming and says "Tanks" and the reply is "Your Welcome". In German, of course, the line is "Panzers", and my friend got lots of weird looks for laughing at that part.
Another good example is Monty Python & the Holy Grail where the lines are back-translated from Japanese.
Then again, I don't know that there's that much more lost in the translation across languages, than cultural differences or for that matter, generational differences. Lots of older American movies have lines or situations I don't always understand fully. Hell, it took me many viewings of The Wrong Trousers to realize that braces meant suspenders, and I still don't understand what it means when they call each other "Chuck". Maybe they should subtitle films from England. :)
 

Ricardo C

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Ricardo C
By letting the audience know the amount in question.

If the viewer can't understand a bit of the movie, be it dialogue or currency, because of its foreign-language content, subtitles should be used to fill him in. That's what subtitles are meant to do.

Translating the currency literally doesn't do the viewer a lick of good if he doesn't know its value. He doesn't know it any more than he would without the help of the subtitles. What would be the point of that?
I don't think knowing the exact amount being discussed is that crucial. I have no idea how much 5,000,000 lira are in dollars, or in my own currency. But I get the point of the scene. I don't need to know how much below 5,000,000 he makes. I know they're painfully poor, and that is enough.

Distance measures I might accept, though reluctantly. Of course, this lends itself to some oddly funny subtitles, such as when a character in an American film mentions a more or less round figure like "We're 15 miles from the next town" and the subtitles read "We're 27 kilometers from the next town."

I recall seeing a Spanish-dubbed episode of Alf. The dubbing was done in Mexico. Imagine my surprise when Alf asks Willy if he can borrow 300 pesos. Nope, not out of place at all...
 

Jeff Bannow

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Mar 7, 1999
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I've wondered about this for a long time too ... how about making your own liner notes? You would need access to a resource for currency conversion on the dates specified, and another for inflation. Anyone have any ideas on where to get this info?

- Jeff
 

Richard WWW

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Apr 7, 2002
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There's also the question of having to make different translations for British, Australian, American, and Canadian audiences. Why is a Brit going to want to see people in France talking American dollars? I personally, don't have a problem with the mention of foreign currencies in foreign films.
 

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